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Power Impairs Judgement

What was he thinking?  Anthony Weiner’s response to that question was,”I don’t know what I was thinking.”  A better response would have been, I wasn’t thinking.  Maybe common sense is not so common.  How does power impair judgement?  Many powerful people are used to getting their way, taking risks, and living a life of perpetual drive and intensity.  They seek activities that create significant excitement, an adrenalin rush and adventure.  Of course, not all-powerful people fit this profile, but in many cases powerful individuals conform to a different set of rules, feel entitled to special treatment, and are self-absorbed.  When you mix the personality characteristics with the behaviors tied to this profile the outcome often leads to destruction.  By the time the story hits the media the destructive behaviors are flagrant, but my guess is that those same individuals have acted inappropriately before with little or no consequence.  Their judgement is impaired because they have not suffered the normal consequences for their negative actions in the past and believe their success excludes them from societal rules, values, and moral conduct.  We have all seen powerful people get away with crimes and inappropriate behaviors before, so there is a precedent.  Lastly, the brain chemistry and high from takings risks, dangerous behaviors, and unpredictability often results in impulsivity, poor decision-making, and bad choices.  Power doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but needs to be treated with great care, humility, and awareness.  Learn specific ways from next week’s blog on managing power.

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